Forum: Make lifestyle changes now to reverse rise in chronic conditions in Singapore

It is worrying to know that Singaporeans are becoming less healthy (S'poreans less healthy, with uptick in chronic ailments, Nov 19), but what is more alarming is that chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, which are the leading causes of chronic kidney disease and kidney failure, are on the rise.

The prevalence of chronic kidney disease in Singapore was reported to be 15.6 per cent in 2007, and projected to increase to 24.3 per cent by 2035, largely attributed to the rising incidence of diabetes and high blood pressure, and an ageing population.

In 2018, there were 2,009 people suffering from end-stage kidney disease, also known as kidney failure, up from 1,448 in 2010.

This news raises much concern at the National Kidney Foundation. If the community cannot bring down the high numbers of these chronic diseases, the dire situation of rapidly rising rates of chronic kidney disease and kidney failure will only worsen.

We all know that trying to change or quit a bad habit requires a lot of effort, but it is not impossible.

Kidney failure is irreversible. People with kidney failure have to rely on lifelong dialysis or undergo kidney transplantation to survive. They and their families have to make major changes to their lives.

Singapore has a diverse food culture, and it requires bigger and persistent efforts to change public mindsets on what constitutes healthy eating.

We should look into delivering healthy eating messages in bite-sized, digestible and practical ways so that the public can easily learn, adjust and adopt.

Giving up years of accumulated unhealthy eating habits is easier said than done. However, only if we "start right, eat right and live well" can we live better and longer.

"Prevention is better than cure" is an old adage that remains relevant to our current situation.

We can choose to keep our kidneys healthy. Let's start today, make the right choices and take our first steps towards a healthier lifestyle so that we do not suffer from kidney failure.

Tim Oei

Chief Executive Officer

National Kidney Foundation